In a spur of the moment decision, I drove to Kentucky last Saturday morning to watch the Wildcats square off with the Rebels.
The Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Mitch McConnell was the extent of my knowledge for the Bluegrass State. I had never been to Lexington, but based off of the few things I have heard, I had pretty low expectations.
When I arrived, my presumptions were confirmed. The campus was pretty nice, but it had more of an industrial feel to it - Lexington just didn’t really feel like a college town.
In regard to athletics, Kentucky is always going to spend money on basketball over football. As a result, I wasn’t overly excited about the idea of Kroger Field.
However, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked their stadium and appreciated that Ole Miss fans came prepared. Road Rebs continue to be one of the best parts of the fanbase.
I wouldn’t necessarily call the stadium nice, the concessions weren’t great, but the turf field, facilities and in-game experience made up for what it lacked in culinary spread. I expected more of a stadium named after a grocery store.
Initial thoughts of Kroger Field...— Ruby (@RubyDraay) October 3, 2020
Both teams uniform combination is $, but Kentucky’s music is wayyyyyy better. pic.twitter.com/xbqcksARli
The music that echoed through the blue bleachers of Kroger Field was night and day compared to what we have in Oxford. I have no idea who does the music at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, so this isn’t personal... but the music is atrocious. I have heard Sweet Caroline as a hype song heading into the fourth quarter, followed by Can’t Stop the Feeling. It’s terrible.
On the other end of the spectrum, Kentucky had the perfect amount of Waka Flocka Flame, AC/DC, and Meek Mill. The players were more excited, and the audience wasn’t bored to death. Beating Kentucky in overtime on the road feels even more disrespectful after you've been dancing on their field to Crime Mob.
I cannot speak personally, but I had a Kentucky fan sitting next to me, and he was ranting about the alcohol situation... for four quarters... plus overtime. It didn’t seem great? In order to buy anything apparently, you have to be in the VIP section. He was not in the VIP section, and he let me know... for four quarters.... plus overtime. Huge plus to VHS for booze sold to anyone who can legally purchase it.
(He also said Oxford was his favorite college town!)
While most of the auditory experience was on point, I have beef with one reoccurring moment in particular.
Every college football team has a few weird traditions. Eagles flying through the stadium, the Sooner Schooner, and throwing random carbs on the field all feel welcomed in comparison with Kentucky. After every first down, a weird cat growl plays through the speakers, meant to excite the crowd similar to the “First Down, Ole Miss” cheer you hear in the Vaught.
Ole Miss might say “Hotty Toddy” too many times during a game, but at least we don’t have a weird wildcat growl after every first down. ♀️— Ruby (@RubyDraay) October 3, 2020
And if you watched the game on Saturday, you know that there were a lot of cat growls.
The biggest problem with it is that the sound quality is terrible. If you’ve never heard it, it would probably still be pretty easy to recreate. “RAAAAWWWRRRRR!” But played through an aux cord that barely works. You know, something like that. But over and over again. Ugh, it was exhausting.
All in all, Kentucky, its campus, its town and its stadium were better than the low bar I had set. It certainly helps that the Rebels rolled in with guns blazing and out-lasted the Wildcats in an overtime shootout victory, but I don’t know if a loss would have made the 7-hour drive worth it.